January 5th, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Mother and baby survive near-death experiences

Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

The nightmare began around 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Mike Hermanstorfer stood next to his wife's hospital bed, stricken. He touched her arm. The skin was cold, ashen. Tracy Hermanstorfer's heart had stopped.

"I opened my hand and her arm just fell out of mine," said Hermanstorfer. "She was already gone."

Moments later, the staff at Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs, Colorado, sounded a Code Blue - resuscitation needed for cardiac arrest. They would have to act fast: Tracy Hermanstorfer, 33, was also in labor. Her baby was perilously close to death.

But this was a perplexing case. Before her heart stopped beating, Tracy Hermanstorfer was, by all accounts, completely healthy. Doctors still have few clues about what caused her cardiac arrest.

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September 22nd, 2009
07:52 PM ET

Fertility clinic to couple: You got the wrong embryos

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/09/22/wrong.embryo.family/art.savage.family.jpg caption="Sean and Carolyn Savage with daughter Mary Kate (now 18 months) and sons Ryan, left, and Andrew."]

Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

On a cold morning in February, 10 days after undergoing in vitro fertilization, Carolyn Savage lay in bed at her Ohio home waiting for the results of her pregnancy test.

Time was moving slowly. It was getting late and the call from the fertility clinic should have come by lunchtime.

"We were waiting and waiting and the call seemed like it would never come," Savage said.

Finally, around 4 p.m., Carolyn's husband, Sean, got the call at work.

"The doctor told me in one sentence, 'Carolyn is pregnant, but we transferred the wrong embryos,'" he said. "I didn't even know that could physically happen. It was a total shock, totally beyond the realm of possibility."

In a tragic mix-up, the Savages say the fertility clinic where Carolyn underwent in vitro fertilization implanted another couple's embryos into Carolyn's uterus.

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Filed under: Medical News • Stephanie Smith
August 20th, 2009
06:10 PM ET

Man blames science for nearly 20 years he spent in prison

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/19/art.crime.scene.barnes.innocence.jpg caption="Steven Barnes, now 43, was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder at the age of 23."]

Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

For 20 years Steven Barnes has relived one day over and over in his mind; the scenes sometimes unfold like a filmy, disjointed dream, and sometimes with a stark and painful furor.

It was the day he was arrested, at age 23, for a crime he did not commit.

"When they came to arrest me I was screaming and freaking out saying I didn't murder nobody," said Barnes, who is now 43, and was released from prison last November just a few days after his conviction was overturned.

His conviction hinged on what he calls "junk science." In 1989, Barnes was convicted of raping and strangling to death 16-year-old Kimberly Simon on the evening of Sept. 18, 1985, in Marcy, N.Y. The case against him relied heavily on forensic evidence and he spent nearly 20 years in prison.

Investigators testified that hairs found in Barnes' truck had similar characteristics to hairs found at the crime scene. They suggested dirt found in the wheel wells of his pick-up truck was similar to dirt at the crime scene - and the clincher - according to investigators, a smudge on the side of Barnes' truck bore a similar imprint to the jeans worn by the victim. Barnes says investigators suggested that the victim leaned against the truck before he allegedly raped and killed her.

It is all of these suggestions that still make Barnes bristle.

"That was all their scientific evidence," said Barnes, with an air of scorn at the word 'scientific'. "It was all about similarities. Similar hair, similar jean imprint. You don't put someone away that long for similarities."